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How do our responses to Magwitch change during the novel? What message do you think Dickens wanted to convey through this character?

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Introduction

How do our responses to Magwitch change during the novel? What message do you think Dickens wanted to convey through this character? Charles Dickens wrote great Expectations in 1860. It is set on the marshes in Kent near to the river Medway in the 1820's. It is written in the first person, as the narrator introduces himself as Pip, in the beginning of the first chapter. The story is of Pip's life as he is the central character. It was set by the river Medway because Dickens liked to walk along the river in the early mornings. The village where Pip lives is based on Cooling, a few miles from Rochester, Kent. It was first published on the first of December in a magazine, where it was released in weekly instalments. People would buy each week for the next part of the story Great Expectations. Magwitch is a convict who Pip meets in the first chapter of the book. He is described by Pip as ''A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg.'' He holds Pip and asks him to steal the food for him to eat as he is starving. He is then grateful when Pip returns without bringing the police or the army. When Magwitch finds out that another convict is loose, he is willing to get caught himself in order for the army to recapture the other convict. Magwitch wanted Compeyson caught (the other convict) because he had employed Magwitch, then the both of them had been caught, arrested and prosecuted together. Both Pip and Joe are there when Magwitch and Compeyson are re-caught because the soldiers had turned up at their forgery to get a pair of handcuffs mended. Pip feels extremely guilty about stealing the food and so when the soldiers turn up at his door he expects them to be there to arrest him. ...read more.

Middle

My responses towards Magwitch change because I feel sorry for him, and I see that within him that there is more than just the convict he once was. He is now a man who worked hard to help a boy, and make a little boy who once stole him food whilst he was on the run a gentleman. He has a lot of respect for Pip as well. This is shown when he talks to Pip. "'You acted nobly, my boy.' Said he 'Noble Pip!' And I have never forgot it!'" This implies that even thought he made Pip rich he still feels that he is more respectful than he, himself, is. The quote also suggests that all Magwitch's money goes to Pip, and he hasn't kept the money for himself. This is another reason why my responses towards Magwitch change. In Chapter 39 there are many key points that help to change, both Pips and my reactions. When Magwitch turns and looks over his shoulder at Pip, Pip realises that this is his convict as Magwitch had looked back over his shoulder at Pip when he was being taken in the boat after being caught on the moors. Pip can't believe it either when Magwitch gives him the fixed look. "My attention was so distracted by the singularity of his fixed look at me, that the words died away on my tongue." However, at this point Pip still wants nothing to do with Magwitch and I on the other hand sympathised with him! Another key point is where Magwitch tells Pip that he is his second father. "'Looke'e here, Pip, I'm your second father you're my son - more to me than any son'". At this point Pip and my reactions are also different, as I feel sorry for Magwitch, thinking that Pip is going to turn him away, and Pip is disgusted as he had always thought that Miss Havisham was his benefactor so that she could have intended him for Estella. ...read more.

Conclusion

At the start of the story then I think that Magwitch was a criminal at heart, but by the end he had improved within himself as he admitted he was a criminal. He was also improved within himself because he loved Pip so much he was willing to risk his life to tell Pip the truth. Another reason he may of come back, however was Estella. When Estella was young Mr Jaggers took her from Magwitch. He would have been upset as any parent would have been, but deep down he would of wanted what was best for Estella. He must have told himself how she could have had a better life if she left him to comfort himself. He improved inside himself because when he came back to England, he came back to see Pip, to tell him who his benefactor was, not to hunt down his daughter and seek her back again. Magwitch was an escaped convict at the start of the story when we first met him and our reactions towards him are likely to be biased on the fact that he's a criminal. However, we don't look closer unless you want to get closer to the character. Towards the end of the story when I sympathise with Magwitch I started to see that there was more to Magwitch than what met the eye. Deep down he cared and had cared for Pip all the way through he story. At the start when he said that he stole the food to get Pip out of trouble, the money he sent all the way to the end when he risked his life to see Pip again. This shows that Magwitch has been a decent character all the way through the story, the readers just don't allow with themselves to see it at first. His also shows that a person can improve if only they try hard enough. 18th March. Debbie James. - 1 - ...read more.

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